Halloween may not be much of a treat for youngsters in Santa Barbara County this year, but public health officials say there are still steps families can take to have fun while limiting their risk of contracting COVID-19.
“Traditional trick-or-treating is not an option,” Van Do-Reynoso, the county’s public health director, said at Friday’s weekly COVID-19 briefing.
She stressed that the annual spooky holiday “will look and feel a little different this year.”
The Public Health Department, on its website, offered guidance on how to safely celebrate the holiday.
Health officials are strongly discouraging the traditional door-to-door activities of children seeking candy, urging families to pursue other activities instead.
Suggested alternatives include watching Halloween movies at home, holding virtual costume parties, doing Halloween-themed arts and crafts projects, holding a candy hunt with your household, and carving pumpkins with family members.
Those who do head out to trick-or-treat are advised to follow the oft-stated rules of maintaining social distancing, wearing masks, and regularly washing or sanitizing hands.
For residents still planning to hand out candy, officials make the following suggestions:
» Wash hands before and after handling candy.
» Do not pass out candy from inside your home; have grab-and-go candy from the porch or driveway instead of from the front.
» Provide tongs or a grabber along with hand sanitizer so there is no touching of candies with hands.
» Wear a face covering.
» Provide only commercially packaged candy.
» Place a 6-foot table lengthwise between the person providing the candy and the trick-or-treaters to help maintain 6 feet of social distance.
» Make a variety of treat bags with commercially packaged candy and hang from streamers in the yard and monitor to ensure social distancing.
» Place a bowl or container of candy at the end of the driveway or walkway with some hand sanitizer and watch from the porch.
Ideas for safe trick-or-treating include:
» Wear a face covering correctly, even while outdoors.
» Allow your child to select their own safe face covering.
» Decorate a face covering together to match your child’s costume.
» Don’t wear a costume that prohibits you from wearing a face covering.
» Maintain 6 feet of social distance from others and from different households.
» Travel together with your household members as a small group.
» Keep interactions with others brief.
» Practice good hygiene.
» Wash hands often.
» Have hand sanitizer available and use often.
» Don’t touch your face.
» Don’t share costume props such as swords, fake firearms, and lightsabers.
» Don’t share drinks or food.
» If you are sick or have been in contact with someone who is sick with COVID-19 or has symptoms of COVID-19, stay home and away from others.
The county on Friday reported 26 new cases of COVID-19, but no additional deaths. The county’s case total for the virus rose to 9,249.
Of the new cases, 14 were in the Santa Maria Valley, five were in the Lompoc Valley, two were in Goleta, and Santa Barbara, the Santa Ynez Valley and Isla Vista each had one.
The geographic location was pending on one case.
There were 18 people being treated for COVID-19 in local hospitals, the lowest number since April 1. Of those, five were in intensive-care units, a number that has been fairly stable for the past two weeks.
To date, the county has had 115 deaths from the novel coronavirus.